Corrosion Prompts Closing of Bridge in Indiana

August 14, 2007

Indiana transportation officials closed a bridge that connects two northern Indiana highways and passes over a commuter rail line after an inspection revealed potential safety problems.

Officials closed the Indiana 212 bridge Friday after inspectors spotted corrosion between the approach spans to the center span and bridge deck, said Angela Fegaras, a spokeswoman for the Indiana Department of Transportation.

It was not immediately known how long the bridge would be closed. Crews are to investigate next week whether short-term repairs are possible, she said.

The bridge was closed after inspectors found corrosion was more rapid than expected, likely because of temperature fluctuations and precipitation, Fegaras said.

The closing came amid heightened inspections following the collapse of the Interstate 35W bridge in Minneapolis, but officials said the bridge would have been closed regardless of the Minnesota disaster.

“We thought, to be on the safe side, let’s close it,” Fegaras said. “If this would have happened three months ago, we would have done the same thing. This is not something we want to do every day, or that we do every day.”

The bridge connects U.S. 20 and U.S. 12 in the city along Lake Michigan and runs above tracks used by the South Shore commuter line that runs between Chicago and South Bend. The bridge was built in 1972 and rehabilitated in 1997, and a contract for its replacement was to be awarded in October.

According to INDOT estimates from 2003, about 8,860 vehicles use the bridge on a daily basis. Until the bridge is reopened or replaced, traffic is being detoured onto nearby U.S. 35 and U.S. 12.

The Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District, which operates the South Shore line, supported the decision to close the bridge and will be working with state officials to minimize any construction disruptions, said John Parsons, the district’s spokesman.

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